Monday, December 11, 2006

How Many People in Your Family have AIDS?

How many people have you met who have HIV or AIDS? Do you have anyone in your family with HIV or AIDS? Have you ever cared for someone who has AIDS? HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. You will not see "HIV" but you will see AIDS because of how it destroys the immune system. ( If you have HIV and any of a list of about 24 designated Center for Disease Control opportunistic infections, then you have AIDS. )

In the United States, we are blessed with the money and the ability to treat someone with HIV. As a matter of fact, someone with HIV in the United States has every chance to live a normal life span with treatment. Furthermore, we have the money and medicine to prevent HIV from passing from mother to child.

In Kenya, there is little money to treat HIV, and less money to treat someone once AIDS begins. As a result of this, many parents who have HIV die by the time they are 30 yr.s old. Mothers rarely even know if they have HIV until the AIDS breaks out. Therefore they infect their babies with HIV. Then the cycle has begun.

The "victims" of HIV/AIDS are often wives\mothers and the children they bear. When the parents die, the tragedy left behind is the millions of Orphans, referred to as AIDS Orphans. When I was in Africa in October, every person I met inside and outside of the church was caring for AIDS Orphans. It is amazing to hear story after story of brothers and sisters taking care of younger orphaned brothers and sisters. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, and friends moving orphaned relatives into their homes. It is such a heart-breaking experience to listen to people tell their story.

Please consider helping out these young victims.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Social Ministry for Your Church – Help AIDS Orphans in Africa (Free Trip to Kenya for your Pastor)

Friends of Mercy wants to take your pastor to Kenya to help AIDS Orphans and meet the elders of the Maasai village. (The Maasai donated 60 acres of land to build a boarding primary school and home for girls fleeing FGM.) A Faith and Mercy Expedition is a program that takes people to Kenya to work with members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. The kind of work that is done depends upon when the trip is scheduled. It could be anything from fixing walls in an orphanage to assisting nurses in a medical clinic.

Become a Friends of Mercy Sponsor

All we ask is that your congregation becomes a Friends of Mercy Sponsor. When your congregation commits $3,500 to our project in your budget, we will take your pastor to Kenya on a Faith and Mercy Expedition.


Pictured above are three pastors who visited an orphanage in Orthoro. Pictured below is the mud hut in which eight boys lived before the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya built the new orphanage thanks to a grant from our partner, LCMS World Relief.

We encourage members of your congregation to go as well and experience a life changing 11 days. Are you interested in helping AIDS Orphans? Do you know of anyone who desires to help? Pastor Mark Sell (pictured at right) will gladly come to your church and meet with your pastor, your elders, or any person(s) who might be interested in helping.

Contact us at: 1-877-31-Mercy or mark@thefriendsofmercy.org

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oprah Helps AIDS Orphans in Africa - Lutherans and Oprah Have Something in Common


Oprah is a great humanitarian, as everyone has heard. One of her projects is helping AIDS Orphans. At Friends of Mercy, we also realize there is much work to be done for millions of AIDS Orphans. What a blessing it is to show compassion and good works to others.

Friends of Mercy is the LCMS' way of reaching out to these children as Lutherans. Lutherans understand the Christian life as Faith and Mercy inseparably connected. The baptized child of God shows her love for God by loving others as one "raised in the new life." (Rom. 6)

Here are a couple of quotes from Oprah about what is going on in Africa.

"Every minute in Africa, 64 people die of AIDS. They have left behind a whole generation of children without parents, food or any way out.

There may be as many as 11 million of these orphans, according to the United Nations. It's as if every child under the age of 19 in New York were left to raise themselves. Few of them go to school, since few countries in Africa have public school systems. School costs money at least $250 a year and many orphans do not have the money for school. They are also too busy taking care of siblings.

What is a "Sibling Family?

In many parts of Africa and around the world, something called "sibling families" are being created: children left to take care of younger children. "I see myself in those children," Winfrey said. "Not only because their skin is black and I see myself in their eyes and feel myself in their hearts, but I came from that."
Read Oprah's article here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Adopt an AIDS Orphan in Africa
Make a Difference!

From This
To This
$28\month
will support an
AIDS Orphan and Bring
God's Word, Food, Clothing,
Education, and Provide a Home

Visit Friends of Mercy and share your blessings.











Thursday, November 09, 2006

Meeting with Lutheran Maasai Elders a Success in Kenya (Outside the Safari Park)

In October, I traveled to Kenya to meet with church leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK). Meeting with about 40 of the Maasai Elders was on the top of the list. The meeting took place on a plot of 60 acre plot of land the Maasai tribe gave to the ELCK to develop "Entito Rescue Center."

A key factor in battling the practice of Female Genital Cutting is to work within the culture and support the education of the children.

Historically, the Maasai culture encouraged boys to become educated and the girls were to stay behind, get married, and provide for the family. However, in order to marry, an "acceptable" Maasai girl must be "cut" to be considered mature enough for marriage and become a full member of the women of the village.

"Entito Rescue Center"

In a partnership with Friends of Mercy, ELCK, LCMS World Relief, and Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF), the "Entito Rescue Center" will eventually be a boarding primary school for 500 female students and a rescue home for up to 200 girls who desire not to become circumcised. This will provide the educational foundation for girls to receive a liberal arts education, learn about the medical problems associated with FGC, and, learn about the Lutheran faith and the mercy and hope in Christ.

The foundation of Christian instruction will strengthen the community's understanding of creation and the gifts God gives therein. As Lutherans, we confess the ultimate gift that we have is our God who became flesh. This God, who came to earth to pay for our sins, to cleanse us and make us holy, recreate the sinner in His righteousness in baptism. This is the foundation of respecting one's own body, and loving one's neighbor.

This will be a long term project. No "one-day" miracle. It will come about by God's work through the faithful gifts of other Christians who will provide for those who do not have the funds for their own education.

The meeting with the Maasai Elders was the foundation of the future of the "Entito Rescue Center" because we heard from all levels and leadership of the community. Those who spoke at the meeting were,

  • Maasai Elders, pictured above left, with me speaking to them.
  • Local Counselor, the regionally democratically elected political leader
  • The Chief of the region, the appointed representative of the Kenyan government
  • The Lutheran Pastor, Pr. Momposhi is a Maasai pastor of the local Maasai Lutheran church.

  • Maasai Education Committee, made up of Maasai Elders, Women, ELCK church leaders, the Counselor. Two Members pictured on the right.
  • Friends of Mercy Exec. Director, I spoke about our work to raise awareness of this project among Lutherans in the U.S.
This was a GREAT start for Friends of Mercy in our work with the Maasai Tribe and showing mercy to girls who do not want to be "cut." What made this meeting so successful was the fact that all levels of leadership fully support this project.

So, now we need to move forward and develop the funds to get this project off the ground.

Please go to Friends of Mercy and give generously. Every gift received qualify for a 1-1 matching gift which will double your gift.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Do You Know Who Waris Dirie Is?

Waris is a supermodel.

She is beautiful, wealthy, and circumcised.

Her name means "Desert Flower" which is also the title of one of her books about Female Genital Mutilation. You can learn about her story from her foundation, the Waris Dirie Foundation which leads her fight against Female Genital Cutting.

"Born into a nomadic Somali family, 39-year-old supermodel Waris Dirie survived the traditional form of female genital mutilation that kills hundreds of women in Africa every year - including her own younger sister and two cousins...
... Dirie remembers the mutilation only as 'that horror.' As a little girl, she was blindfolded and held down by her mother, with only a cloth to bite on to relieve her pain, while her clitoris was cut out with a dirty razor. The same procedure, Dirie says, killed her sister - along with many other girls in Somalia who were cut in the wrong vein and bled to death or died of an infection. But Waris, who survived this tragic procedure, shows a strength, not only of the physical sort, but also a strength of mind, body and soul. Dirie underwent this crime...survived...and she is living AND campaigning to tell about it."

Friends of Mercy is working to raise awareness among Lutherans about the problem of FGM with our fellow Lutherans in Kenya. I met with the Maasai elders and other leaders to develop a program that will build a refuge center called the Entito Rescue Center for girls. This compound will include a grade school, a medical clinic, and other facilities so that the school could board 500 girls and up to 200 girls who want to break the cycle of FGM.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kenya - Learning About the Need

On Oct. 17th, I returned from Kenya after 10 days in country. WOW!

I will begin to post my experience in Kenya.

The most memorable thing I took home from Kenya was the nonstop flow of stories about AIDS orphans with every person I met. That is not an exaggeration.

The people we met always had at least 2, but usually 4-8 orphans for whom they were responsible. I will post many stories about the people we met and who helped us travel around Kenya.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What Would You Do with Scissors?

What a weekend! My daughter played in a state volleyball tourney for Missouri Lutheran grade schools. We had a great time watching the girls play (4th place).

My wife and I enjoy our time with the parents. One of the subjects that came up this weekend was Female Circumcision. What sparked people's interest was an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a man who performed female circumcision on his daughter.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that this is the first case of FGC and the first case that was brought to a US court. It is a landmark for everybody who is fighting FGM. Khalid Adem, 31, was sentenced to 10 years for mutilating the genitals of his daughter with a pair of scissors.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WELCOME to the Friends of Mercy Blog. Here you will find information and commentary about the work of Friends of Mercy. I expect to post at least once a week. Feel free to comment and look us up for other information at Friends of Mercy our web page.

Friends of Mercy has two international projects and one domestic project.

Our international projects are in Kenya. In partnership with LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Our domestic program is to raise the awareness of Hospice and provide materials and help from a distinctly Lutheran perspective.
  • AIDS orphanages in Kenya
  • Sanctuary Homes for girls fleeing Female Genital Cutting (Mutilation, Female Circumcision)
  • COMING 2007 Lutheran Cancer and Hospice Society